How to get the winter blues off your back

Do you often feel sadder or more stressed out in the winter? You're not alone. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, somewhere around 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States suffer from some level of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This kind of depression is triggered by the changing seasons and typically occurs in the winter from decreased exposure to UV rays, but some people also experience summer-onset SAD.

Even if you don't have SAD, getting through the winter can take an emotional toll that can lead to physical pains, especially on your back. Here are some ways you can adjust your own habits to combat the winter blues:

Maintain your posture

They don't call it "in a slump" for nothing. Your posture tends to reflect and affect your mood simultaneously, so actively maintaining better posture can help you feel better. When you're at work, keep your back aligned with the chair and try not to slouch or lean forward. You should also bend your arms at a 75 to 90 degree angle at your elbows and straighten your shoulders. Plant your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees at an even level.

Exercise

Studies show that exercise is one of the best ways to eliminate or improve back pain. It keeps your discs, ligaments, joints and muscles healthy, decreases stiffness and weakness as well as lessens the severity and wards off any recurrences of your lower back pain. Besides its benefits for your back, the endorphins released through exercise are mood boosters, which is why physical activity is often recommended to sufferers of depression.

Sleep better

Having a consistent schedule of adequate sleep can make a world of difference if you're suffering from back pains and bad moods. You should aim for the recommended seven to eight hours each night, but if your schedule doesn't really allow it, be sure to get at least six hours of shut-eye. While winter seems like a great season for naps, they actually disrupt your sleep cycle and can make you feel even more tired. Getting a good night's sleep has a lot of positive benefits for your health, like reducing stress and symptoms of chronic pain, so there's no harm in trying to sleep better this winter.

If you're experiencing back pain this winter, you should schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.